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Are Mosquito Coils bad for Health?

The burning of scented plant material to keep away mosquitoes has become an integral part of many cultural traditions around the world. But by the early 1900s, thanks to the Japanese entrepreneurs Aichiro and Yuki Uyama and their bowl senk (Mosquito Agarbatti), the mosquito coil of specific size was not born.

While traditional coils and sticks were made from pyrethrum paste, modern mosquito coils mostly contain pyrethroid insecticides or plant-derived substances such as citronella. 

How do they work

Mosquito coils contain a mixture of substances. Along with products that prevent mosquito bites, there are products that hold the coil together and enable it to slowly ignite. Mosquito coils work in one of two ways. People who have pesticides will kill (or at least “knock out”) mosquitoes, while those who have aromatic substances (such as citronella) will repel mosquitoes or reduce their chances of biting.

Mosquito coils and their role in killing or reintroducing mosquitoes have been well studied. Despite the differences between the chemical components of the products and their methods of testing, they will typically reduce the ability of mosquitoes to bite people. The problem is that less nuisance-biting by mosquitoes is good but when there is a risk of disease, you need to stop all mosquito bites. Are mosquito coils doing enough?

Prevent Bites and Disease

Mosquito-borne germs kill more than half a million people a year and sicken hundreds of thousands of people. Malaria is the worst of these, with recent reports from the World Health Organization slowing the steady improvement in disease burden, and the situation may worsen further.

Dengue continues to have widespread effects. Australia has also seen a record-breaking epidemic of Ross River virus disease in recent years. To prevent public health risks associated with mosquitoes, most people have to rely on “cover ups” with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, sleeping under the bed, applying topical insect repellents or burning mosquito coils Huh.

While there is a general consensus among experts that mosquito bites can be useful in preventing mosquito borne disease, proving that mosquito borne disease is missing. A review of 15 previously published studies has shown that there is no evidence of malaria protection from insecticide-containing mosquito coils. Similar studies indicated that regular burning of mosquito coils did not prevent the risk of dengue.

Health Concerns

There is a growing concern about the adverse health effects associated with mosquito coil and sticks burning. Commonly used pesticide products are considered safe, but it is a smoldering mosquito coiled particle that poses the greatest risk. Is it correct to claim that burning a mosquito coil in a closed room is equivalent to drinking about 100 cigarettes “as some have claimed?

One study estimated that the particles produced by burning a mosquito coil were equivalent to burning 75–137 cigarettes.Facing this uncertainty, the key message should be to avoid long-term exposure, especially in enclosed spaces.

Balance the Risks

In Australia, all products that kill or repel mosquitoes must be registered by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Drugs Authority. Check the packaging for a registration number. There are dozens of variations on the “mosquito coil”, including sticks, coils, candles and “smokeless”, plug-in devices. Fortunately, locally produced and sold products in Australia do not use some of the more dangerous chemicals found in mosquito coils.

There is enough evidence to show that when used outdoors, burning a mosquito coil will help reduce mosquito bites, but should be used judiciously. Using them in combination with topical insect repellents provides the best protection possible. They are best used in closed rooms – “non-smoking” devices are worth considering as an option.

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